Playing With Virtual Blocks: Minecraft as a Learning Environment for Practice and Research

H. Chad Lane, Sherry Yi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter elaborates on the potential impacts and roles of one the most important and widely used video games of this generation: Minecraft. We argue that Minecraft, an open-world, exploratory and generative game, is highly relevant for educators and learning science researchers alike. Gameplay involves acquisition of a wide range of skills and knowledge relevant to school and the real world. It is likely that playing Minecraft represents the first meaningful exposure to powerful ideas in STEM (e.g., engineering, agriculture, biology). We argue that it is critical to better understand how the game is influencing children's development of STEM competencies, their perceptions of what it means to be an engineer or scientist, and their acquisition of metacognitive skills such as planning and reflection. After describing the Minecraft experience and its broad appeal, we provide a summary of the most relevant features for learning and uses in education. We describe how teachers are already using it in the classroom, and for which goals. Next, we discuss what research is needed to best deploy Minecraft to support learning goals. We conclude with suggestions for future research in the context of emerging developments in the rapidly evolving Minecraft universe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCognitive Development in Digital Contexts
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780128094815
ISBN (Print)9780128097090
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Collaborative learning
  • Creativity
  • Educational games
  • Minecraft
  • Science education
  • Simulations
  • Virtual learning environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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